Free Lunch To Fuel Innovation The Google Way

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Conventional wisdom holds that  “there’s not such thing as free lunch.” Well, I just walked out of Google’s Mountain View headquarters after having plenty of excellent free lunch the Google-style.

Google employs 22,000 people  worldwide and 12,000 of them work in its Mountain View headquarters. All Google employees get free lunch, unregulated working hours, massage at work, all kinds of toys at office campus and tons of other fantastic benefits. This is a dream job. Did I say job? It’s play!  This feels being a child and being all cared for.

San Francisco 082Those Google-guys have virtually nothing to think about, but work. Internet-enabled shuttle to work, everything corporate branded and top quality. Even their dry-cleaning and laundry seem to be taken care of by Google… They take time at work and swim in the pool, play beach volleyball in the campus and have 20% of their working time to freely work on projects of their choice. Best of all – it pays back in productivity.

These ‘kids’ in the Google campus produce what I consider the world’s best online services and software. More importantly, they produce wealth: billions and billions of dollars of revenue out of those little treats like massage, free lunch and sure enough, a very attractive salary.

Am I jealous? Yes. Would I work for Google? Yep, absolutely… when can I buy the ticket to Mountain View, CA? I guess those thoughts accurately describe what most of us, the international group of journalists touring the Google campus were thinking while photographing around like crazy.

But here’s a question! Are such working conditions possible in Armenia or any other third world country even theoretically? Would it actually translate to productivity of employees? I don’t think so, do you?

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9 thoughts on “Free Lunch To Fuel Innovation The Google Way

  1. Every country and even many companies have their unique culture, so Google’s model might not be applicable to others. Solving people small needs to optimize work time can be done even in Armenia, some companies i know offer free lunch as well. I don’t think we will have free laundry, but once we had organized a minibus to get people to the work. So everything is possible, even having super quality software in Armenia. All we need is a will to do that :)

  2. I’m just sure, that employees in Armenia would take advantage of the freedoms offered and not get any work done at all. We saw plenty of examples of that in Soviet times…

  3. In any country, there are those who will produce without any supervision and those who require constant supervision and are unproductive. Some have work ethics and others do not.

    I have seen at a number of companies which provided amenities, many employees abused the generosity of the company and the system. Such people will not produce regardless whether they have tennis courts, swimming pools, gymnasiums, golf courses, restaurants, free benefits or not. Some companies provide telecommuting and there are employees who take paid days off and claim they are telecommuting but in reality they are playing and taking care of personal matters.

    It is up to companies to weed out the lazy worthless selfish opportunists and never to hire such people or to fire them if they happened to have hired them. If a company has a reputation of not firing deadbeats, then, the lazy abusers will increase in that company. If companies laid out the ground rules to employees and enforced the rules without any hesitation, then, many employees will abide by the rules and produce. There must be consequences for bad and nonproductive behavior and there must be rewards and incentives for good and productive behavior.

    Government employees, with some exceptions, are perfect examples of the abusers and the brainless because once they are hired at government jobs, they are hardly ever fired and they have lifetime job security, benefits and generous retirement plans. I have known managers in the private sector who will not hire former government employees because they feel these will be unproductive and will abuse the system. I have also known individuals who want government jobs so that they can have easy lifetime employment with benefits – and they are not embarrassed to admit this. It is not fair to paint all government employees in broad brush but these are the facts and the perception in the money-making private sector. In former USSR, almost everyone, if not all, was a government employee and had job security and some benefits no matter if they produced or not. In a welfare society, when jobs and benefits are cut off suddenly, it takes time to make the transition to another way of life or employment.

    If everyone at Google is producing, that means the company hires the right kind of employees and fires the non-producers. The incentives and amenities employers provide will keep employees happy and there will not be big turnover of talent. When good workers are not happy with employer, they will seek other employment and will take their talent and experience with them. It must be a two-way street.

  4. You sound too pessimistic :) Sure some employees will abuse the privileges, and i don’t believe all Google employees being producers. So it is a company’s internal culture to make people feel they are the part of the company, so they will not allow any of themselves show disrespect to others.

    However the topic was, is it possible to have Google like company in Armenia, and is it possible to provide employees with social benefits. I answer YES on both questions!

  5. There are quite a few books about hiring the right people. I’m sure you can have a Google like working environment in Armenia and be successful, too. The problem is that countries like Armenia are seen as a source of cheap labor (if seen at all) in the West – you don’t treat cheap labor with free sushi but try to squeeze the last dime out of them. Yes, the pay and working conditions will be better than what an Armenian company can offer but it ain’t Google.

  6. One way to find out: start a company in Armenia and institute these hiring practices…in other words, look at this from the perspective of the employer, rather than the employee.

  7. You made Google sound like heaven. Well, you also have to pay very high living cost while living in silicon valley and, what actually terrifies me, also live in the middle of nowhere. Also, I am a researcher and wouldn’t be happy if I had to work on other people’s, or in this case Google’s, projects all the time. Also, Google employees get fired and most of them have a very good education.

    So overall my response to your question is the following. First and foremost Google isn’t a heaven and for one I wouldn’t like working there. I think university setting works better for me. Secondly they hire only very highly qualified people who have a very good educational background and who would like to do creative work. These usually comes with two things. 1. Great working ethics and 2. Inability to work fixed ours. Give them a year to finish the job they will finish it, but don’t ask them to do it your way, basically is what Google realized about how creative ideas get realized. It is like asking Pushkin to write poetry between 5-9, M thru F. Would just not work.

    So, your last question seems to be irrelevant, I think. If big supermarkets start doing thingd that way, no way they can get their job done. If you are asking a company like Google could exist in Armenia or anywhere else, then the answer is of course yes, the people who would be working there would share the same mentality, love towards their work and whats more important, inability to function productively 5-9, M-F as the ones working in Google.

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